There are few things I enjoy as much and can still do just as well as when I was a kid…riding my bike is one of them.
You won’t see me in lycra or careening down rutted mountain dirt trails. My kind of bike adventure is more of a meet and greet, baguette in the basket foray through the slow paced traffic of a Graeagle late summer day.
One of the best things about a bike adventure is its solo nature, every bike ride is a very personal experience, the right bike is something that is meant for you and you alone. My first bike was the benchmark against which all bikes were measured: Gleaming chrome handlebars, polished wide fenders over fat fully inflated tires, a seat with springs that could cushion any curb jump, racy chain guard, pedal brakes that could stop on a dime…and a basket. A bike like this is a personal transport like no other.
I recently re-discovered such a bike. It belonged to my late father in law, Harvey West, Jr. It didn’t matter that at the time he bought this little bike, he could have afforded any of the brand new bell and whistle laden models available. Harvey was a man of his time and such a man hated waste and at the same time was able to see the possibilities inherent in just about anything…as long as it had “good bones”. He made a shrewd deal at a yard sale, the kind of deal that involves a lot of, “well I don’t knows” and “looks like it could use some work” kind of banter, the kind of ritual that men seem to fall into naturally when looking at a piece of machinery from different vantage points. The final price in these negotiations is irrelevant, in the end both parties walk away feeling a good deal has been struck.
Decades passed, as decades do these days. The old ones pass on, the new ones pile up…and up…and up, until the heap of discarded models finally must be dealt with. And on a day of rolling up the sleeves and finally dealing with it, at the bottom of the heap, rested this little bike. They say some things just have your name on them, and today as I pedal away from My Front Porch, I imagine I do hear the sound of my name in the whir of the spokes, “It’s a brand new bike!” It’s for you, Leah.”
Thank you, Harvey.
Harvey West, Jr
October 18, 1922 – April 26, 2011
Awesome bike restoration done by: